Take on any CX challenge with Pipeline+ - premium contact center analysis. Subscribe today.

Lifting Agility

Lifting Agility

Lifting Agility

How going to cloud telephony and WFM helped Radial meet business needs.

In today’s highly competitive and disruptive business environment, being agile is critical for success.

Robin Gomez

Just ask Robin Gomez, who is Director of Customer Care Innovation for Radial. The company provides B2C retail eCommerce fulfillment solutions to global North American market-focused brands across several verticals such as health and beauty, apparel, footwear, and home goods.

“Radial is an entrepreneurial and agile organization centered on our clients with a proven track record delivering strong peak management, successful launches, and quick expansion to new geographies,” says Robin. “As part of bpostgroup, our company has the strength and stability to invest alongside customers, an established network in the last-mile delivery community, and a commitment to sustainable solutions.”

Radial’s need for agility and service extends to its customer care through its nearly 100% remote workforce (see At A Glance).

“Having a remote team of agents enables flexibility in recruitment, disaster recovery, diversity, and the ability to quickly shift to meet business demands and new opportunities,” says Robin.

But being agile means never once resting on one’s laurels, lest they be swiped away. We had a virtual conversation recently with Robin on what other steps Radial has taken recently to keep its customer care nimble and responsive.

Q. Set the stage. Outline the challenges, but also the opportunities facing Radial. When did you come to the realization that you needed to take action?

In fall 2021 we were facing a decision on a go-forward strategy for our on-premise telephony and WFM [workforce management] solutions. They were aging, outdated, and for WFM, facing end of support.

We had to determine if we wanted to upgrade, and if so, did we want to remain on-premise or make the move to the cloud?

Q. Why go to the cloud?

We made the decision to move to the cloud for telephony and WFM as part of our overall strategic plans and to better align with the business needs. Most of our tech stack had already been migrated to the cloud, and the business dynamics of our support structure were continuing to change into a more remote first agent model.

Flexibility, scalability, and the seasonality of our business are the key reasons why the cloud works for us.

The cloud also enables us to be more agile (no more software upgrades) and fiscally responsible because there is overpaying for [software] licenses, and it can scale and [we] pay for only what is needed as demand fluctuates. This is better for the business, and for our customers as well, as we can pass along these cost benefits to its clients.

Q. What were your goals?

To make a transition to the cloud on the current version of Verint, take advantage of remaining current with ongoing release updates, make the migration timely, and within budget and meeting the needs of the business.

Q. Why Verint for WFM? Did you also upgrade Verint at the same time and if so, why?

We had moved to Verint for WFM in 2017: four years prior to making the decision to go to the cloud. We made a change to Verint due to its WFM, notably its schedule adherence management capabilities. Also, for its ability to support complex labor groups in our business that had consistently challenged us with planning in a shared agent pool with varying channels and SLAs (service level agreements).

“We made the decision to move to the cloud for telephony and WFM as part of our overall strategic plans and to better align with the business needs.” —Robin Gomez

With the move to the cloud, we would automatically get the latest version of Verint and be enabled to leverage the latest features and updates. We could push out the new Verint agent mobile app, implement a formal schedule adherence program, utilize the enhanced shift bidding process, and improve the overall workflows for the WFM team.

Q. Outline the implementations, both the platform to the cloud and lifting Verint to it. How long did it take?

We began it in late Q1 2022 and completed it in late Q3 2022 for Verint cloud WFM. We were also simultaneously migrating our telephony system from the on-premise solution to Amazon Connect.

We had to work on both projects in parallel to ensure an effective implementation that agents and our leadership teams could adopt: without causing significant disruption to the business as we were heading into our critical peak holiday season in Q4 2022.

Alongside the WFM we also use a cloud-based virtual agent workspace environment to deliver the agent desktop. While there was not a lot of integration entailed into the WFM, we did need to configure, test, and deploy the new URLs from that application into our virtual workspace.

We have strong partners to help us ensure local compliance along with a tight relationship with our training team and day-to-day operations. We operate 24/7 and use our agents as needed to support our various brands.

Q. What, if any, obstacles were encountered and how were they overcome?

There were challenges with some of the technical components and the “newness” of the Amazon Connect integration with Verint.

The teams worked together and with AWS (Amazon Web Services) to help resolve issues as they arose. Typical implementation bugs and defects were identified and corrected. We worked through some scoping issues on the project and reporting was a challenge. But through a lot of work we were able to resolve the issues and get the critical information to the WFM team and, in turn, our Operations team.

It was challenging implementing two new cloud based tools simultaneously. But the diligent work and efforts by all parties enabled us to complete the work and be in a position to service our agents and clients effectively through peak holiday season. Since that time, we have continued to refine and improve the integration, configuration, and usage of the platform.

Q. What impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on your company, and on your cloud project?

The pandemic had significant impacts on our clients and in turn, on our business. We experienced significant demand on the customer care contacts and our clients were navigating supply chain challenges.

We worked with our clients to enable them to deliver for their customers in new ways, i.e., buy online with curbside pickup, and implement more self-service customer care options.

The dramatic increase in volume helped solidify the need to explore more flexible options in our technology solutions and helped accelerate decisions to move systems to the cloud. The ongoing shift in labor to a remote model further reinforced the benefits that cloud solutions could provide.

Q. What were the results and how did they align with the goals?

We were able to achieve a project implementation within the critical window. Although it was elongated, we did not run over budget nor did we have to cease the project and default to the legacy on-premise solutions we had in place for peak season 2022.

“Assess your technology in relation to your strategic imperatives. Technology is not a solution in and of itself, but an enabler of success.”

We have been able to use the enhanced features and are positioned to take advantage of the latest Verint products and services should we choose to do so.

Q. What are the next steps?

We will continue to refine the workflows, build out agent scorecards, evolve the omnichannel planning, and assess any future artificial intelligence (AI)-based capabilities that Verint brings to the table.

We’re now gearing up to deploy Generative AI chatbots in the very near future. And we are looking at ways to leverage GenAI to support agents and the broader business, with the goal being to make knowledge more accessible.

All of our core tools are now hosted in the cloud, and we have the flexibility we need to more efficiently operate our customer care business.

Q. What would be your recommendations to other organizations?

  • Assess your technology in relation to your strategic imperatives. Technology is not a solution in and of itself, but an enabler of success.
  • Partner closely with your technical resources and experts when assessing new technologies or upgrades.
  • Work with your business leadership to ensure you are addressing the needs of the agents, customers, and clients. A holistic approach to evolving and maintaining your technical capabilities is critical to helping drive successful outcomes.
  • Invest in the future through proper planning in the now. Assess and experiment with new tech, i.e., Generative AI, to see how this can continue to elevate and empower your workforce.

At A Glance

Number of agents: Approximately 1,300 year-round, scaling up to over 2,000 for peak holiday season.

Contact volume: Approximately 8 million contacts.

Inbound/outbound split: 100% inbound: outbound contacts for follow up support.

Inbound channel split: 51% phone, 22% chat, 26% email, remainder SMS/messaging and social.

On-premise/home office split: 100% remote in the U.S.; BPO partnerships in Belize and the Philippines.

Key technologies used: Amazon Connect, CallMiner, Pega, Saba, Salesforce Service Cloud, Sisense, Verint, Zappix.

Awards and recognition: Several awards, three from NICE (Business Impact and Customer Experience), three from Calabrio (conversational analytics applications), and one from Salesforce/Fortune Partners (Top Service Leaders Award).

“Our clients have been recognized in the Newsweek America’s Best Customer Service Awards over the past several years,” says Robin.

Brendan Read

Brendan Read

Brendan Read is Editor-in-Chief of Contact Center Pipeline. He has been covering and working in customer service and sales and for contact center companies for most of his career. Brendan has edited and written for leading industry publications and has been an industry analyst. He also has authored and co-authored books on contact center design, customer support, and working from home.

Brendan can be reached at [email protected].

Contact author

x
Interactions 20240222
Upland 20231115
Cloud Racers
CXAS Customer Convenience 20240212
Verint
NICE 2024 Trends Report 20231208